In her more than a decade as a Today coanchor, Savannah Guthrie has referenced her Christian faith countless times. “It’s a huge part of who I am,” Guthrie tells PW. The former attorney and celebrity journalist digs into her past to give insights on prayer, belief through hardships, the meaning of God’s love, and more in an essay collection, Mostly What God Does, out this week from Thomas Nelson.

Why do you want to share what you’ve learned about faith?

No one is more surprised than me that I am writing a book at all, let alone about faith. I wrote a couple of children's books a few years back, so from time to time I get offered to write another. I've always said no, because I have a job and two little kids. But last year, a publisher approached my agent [Cait Hoyt of CAA] and asked if I would want to write about my faith. For the first time, it wasn't an immediate “no way.” I was intrigued, challenged, and excited—I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Before I knew it, I had a structure and a plan, so I said yes. My faith means so much to me and I feel like I have something worth telling people: mostly what God does, is love them.

Your beliefs helped you get through the anxiety of your first day on the Today Show. How else has your faith impacted your career?

If I have a big interview or something that I'm intimidated or scared about, prayer is a huge part of my preparation. It’s what gives me the courage to go forward. It doesn’t provide a certainty that things will go well, that it will be a great interview, or that people will like it; it’s just a certainty that I won't be alone—God will be with me.

My first day anchoring the Today Show I was so terrified, and I came down with a blinding migraine. I remember laying in the dark on my dressing room floor 20 minutes before air thinking: How am I going to do this? And then this verse I had memorized years and years before suddenly popped into my head: “I look to the hills, where does my hope come from? It comes from the lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Not only did the words help me to realize to look up and out for my hope, but the fact that that verse came to me was like a wink from God saying: “You’re not alone, I'm here with you.” It was a great comfort to me and that’s a comfort I've relied on again and again.

What I came to learn is that faith and doubt are not opposites; they go hand in hand; they coexist.

Is there a specific essay you found most challenging to write?

Some questions of faith—why does God permit suffering? Why is there evil in this world? Why do bad things happen to decent people? —are so difficult they’re intractable. I guess that’s why no one in all of time has ever come up with a satisfactory answer. I felt like I couldn’t ignore these questions, nor could I really answer them.

In the essay What About Job? I talk about a woman I saw interviewed on 60 minutes. She lost her 6-year-old daughter in the Sandy Hook massacre, and she is a person of great faith. She said the most profound and gut-wrenching thing when the interviewer asked her if she could still hold on to faith despite losing her daughter. She said: “When I get to heaven, I want to hear two things: ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’ and ‘Hi mom.’” I could never read that or say that without crying. It was such a profound testament to faith. I invited her to lunch, and we sat and talked about faith. There are no answers to these questions. What I came to learn is that faith and doubt are not opposites; they go hand in hand; they coexist. To be human is to reside with your faith and with your doubt. God is okay with that.

Self-criticism is one of the greatest struggles you say you’ve grappled with. What part of your faith has helped you challenge those thoughts?

I’m not writing this book from some mountaintop where I’m imparting my wisdom to you. I have a very chipper exterior, but internally I have a lot of self-doubt. I still struggle. I fail and disappoint myself every day. My faith has shown me I can bring my whole authentic self to God and find out that he loves me anyway. And I think those moments of shame, struggle, torment, and disappointment with myself are the moments of my greatest closeness to God. Love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness are so profound that you are almost glad for the thing that brought you to that point.

Who is the intended audience for this book?

There is this old saying you might hear a pastor say: “The preacher preaches the sermon he or she needs to hear.” In a way, I’m my reader. I need to hear this—it’s a salve for my soul and the reminders I need. I imagine someone like me, someone who believes, but sometimes doesn't believe, someone who loves God but isn’t always sure what God’s intentions are toward her. We’ve all been there. This isn't a book to proselytize or convince. I think you could be a person of no faith, or a different faith entirely, and still find themes that are appealing and comforting for your soul.