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In Her Bestselling Book, Savannah Guthrie Shares How Her Faith Helps Her Stay Hopeful—and How It Can Help You Too

In Her Bestselling Book, Savannah Guthrie Shares How Her Faith Helps Her Stay Hopeful—and How It Can Help You Too

By Stacey Lindsay
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Savannah Guthrie has been keeping the world informed and inspired for decades. The longtime journalist and TODAY co-host, who holds a Juris Doctor from Georgetown, has covered countless facets of modern life, from presidential elections to global catastrophes to national trials. Her work is as vast as her following.

Within her life, Guthrie has always found strength in her faith—and her current project, her bestselling book Mostly What God Does: Reflections on Seeking and Finding His Love Everywhere, is her extension of this constant. A collection of essays in which she explores how God has shown up and buoyed her, the pages are a tender reminder that all of us, no matter what we're going through, are worthy of love from something bigger than us.

And while Guthrie anchors the book in her faith, she makes it clear she never wants to proselytize. "It's tough to believe in a world that invites despair and cynicism and also in a life that can be full of disappointment, sadness, and shame," she tells The Sunday Paper. "The book's message is a gentle call to be loved and have hope."

A CONVERSATION WITH SAVANNAH GUTHRIE

You're very honest about your vulnerability and doubt over creating this book. In the foreword, you write, "Everything has been said about faith, but I have not said it. What, then, can I possibly add?" So, Savannah, what compelled you to write this book now?

The short answer is that I felt like I had something good to say about God, and I wanted to say it. But the long answer is I was terrified to do it. And I was surprised that I did do it. My faith is important to me; it has been for many years. But to put yourself out there and be so vulnerable, especially in the world that we live in, was scary. Writing this book wasn't something I did out of obligation or duty. In the end, it was something I wanted to do out of joy. I felt like I had a message that I wanted to share, which is that God loves us. It seems so simple, but it's not easy. These are reflections about how I have learned that over the years, not by what I've done right, but more by what I've done wrong. Not when I've had successes but more when I've had failures. So, I felt like this was a message I hoped people would want to hear and connect with. It's also a message that I still need to hear every single day. 

You punctuate the book with six pieces of faith: love, presence, praise, grace, hope, and purpose. Will you walk us through why you anchored it this way?

It's funny; I kept having this phrase 'six easy pieces' jump into my mind. I remembered it from playing piano when I was a little girl. I loved the way that sounded. When I googled it to see if I remembered it correctly—which I was, there really is sheet music called 'Six Easy Pieces'—I came across a book called Six Easy Pieces about the essentials of physics, which has a hilarious cover. That made me think, what are the essentials of faith? I think love, first and foremost, but I also wanted to think of the different aspects of faith that are building blocks and foundational. I jotted down those essentials, and then started writing, in no particular order. I joke about this in the foreword, but it's true: You could read this from back to front, front or back, or wherever you pick it up. It's a book of essays and reflections that I hope is easy and accessible and hopefully makes you soak in the love that God has for us.

At the end of every chapter, I include a blank page. I wanted that blank page to be a gentle reminder to sit for a moment. To not race on with your day or the next chapter, but to sit for a moment in silence and think about what comes up for you. Or to sit for a moment and soak in this message of love and encouragement. This is a transformative practice that takes a lot of discipline. We're all racing from thing to thing, so to sit in a moment and let it soak in, I felt, was important. 

Our world is indeed busy, overwhelming, and painful at times. If someone is curious about your book but feels disenfranchised with the idea of faith, what would you say?

I would say, You are not alone. I'm not writing this book from some mountaintop. I'm not holding myself up as some example of piety or devoted religious practices. I'm writing this book as a regular person who has struggled - not in the distant past - but who still can struggle every single day with these questions of faith. It's tough to believe in a world that invites despair and cynicism and also in a life that can be full of disappointment, sadness, and shame. The book's message is a gentle call to be loved and have hope. It's not some meaningless bumper sticker slogan that doesn't really penetrate or hold your heart. It's an exploration of how God loves us and how he especially comes through in those moments not of great success and triumphs but in great moments of need. That's where he's at his best. 

To pick up a book like this is an act of hope and faith. It's for anyone, whether you believe, whether you come with a lot of faith or a lot of doubt. I write a lot about those hard questions. It was important to me not to gloss over them or to not address them at all. Why does God allow suffering to continue in this world? Why is there injustice, seemingly, everywhere we look? Spoiler alert: I don't have the answers to those age-old existential questions. But I write a lot about how I've come to grapple with them and the understanding I've come to have as a human, just walking around with the limited understanding that all humans have. 

I'm hopeful that this book is a welcoming place for people of all faiths, of any faith, or no faith at all. It comes from a particular point of view, as I grew up in the Christian church. But it has resonant universal themes, and I believe people can find something for themselves, no matter what they believe. 

At The Sunday Paper, we love to hear how people rise above the noise in this noisy world. What practice, in tandem with your deep faith, helps you do this?

The entire section on presence is really about prayer. I didn't call it prayer because prayer can be very intimidating. But I feel that just being present to God and to ourselves is a form of prayer. There's a famous saying that life is 80 percent showing up. I feel prayer is 100 percent just showing up. So, for me, to rise above every day means, at a minimum, finding a little moment in time, even if it is just 30 seconds or five minutes or whatever you can give to just be quiet. Be quiet and present to yourself and to God if you can. It doesn't need words. It means presence in giving God access to your heart and then letting him do the rest.

Click here to get your copy!

Savannah Guthrie is the co-anchor of NBC News' TODAY, NBC News' chief legal correspondent and a primary anchor for the network's election coverage. She is a graduate of Georgetown Law, and a New York Times bestselling author for her book Princesses Wear Pants and the sequel Princesses Save the World. 

Stacey Lindsay

Stacey Lindsay is a journalist and Senior Editor at The Sunday Paper. A former news anchor and reporter, Stacey is passionate about covering women's issues. Learn more: staceyannlindsay.com.

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