Sister Costa teaches BYU–Pathway students how they can become true ‘learners of Divinity’

In addressing BYU–Pathway Worldwide students, Sister Renee Valera Costa, wife of General Authority Seventy Elder Joaquin E. Costa, could relate to her listeners in a unique way.

Not many devotional speakers of the Church’s relatively young online learning program can admit to being enrolled. However, in the devotional broadcast on Tuesday, June 14, Sister Costa — who earned a degree many years ago with four young children at home — spoke of joining BYU–Pathway in recent years and earning a certificate in marriage and family studies.

Her educational journey has taught her that both secular and spiritual learning are essential because everything is spiritual to the Lord, she said.

“One of the purposes of life is to learn and to study in order to know our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ so we can become like Them. We do this as we strive to be educated and self-reliant in every aspect of our lives just like They are. We are learners of Divinity: we are learning from Them how to become like Them,” Sister Costa explained.

As learners of Divinity, individuals are blessed in their divine education as they follow the scriptural pattern known as the doctrine of Christ: faith in Jesus Christ; repentance; making covenants with God, starting with baptism; receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost; and enduring to the end, she explained.

How do individuals apply the doctrine of Christ to unlock the power of God in their lives?

First, seek to know and learn about Jesus Christ by searching the scriptures, asking and praying. As faith in Jesus Christ increases, individuals become aware of their imperfections and have a desire to change and become more like Him. “We repent,” Sister Costa said.

In an effort to leave behind past sins and mistakes, individuals make sacred promises called covenants, beginning with the ordinance of baptism. 

Next, individuals receive the gift of the Holy Ghost who will work as a guide and inspire them to be true to their covenants.

“But we are not perfect. We will make mistakes, so we will keep trying,” Sister Costa said.

Which leads individuals to do it all over again, or endure to the end, in a pattern of eternal progression.

Secular education can follow a similar pattern, Sister Costa asserted.

Sister Renee Costa, wife of Elder Joaquin E. Costa, looks through one her textbooks from when she was a student at BYU–Pathway. She spoke to students of BYU–Pathway Worldwide during a devotional broadcast on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.
Sister Renee Costa, wife of Elder Joaquin E. Costa, looks through one her textbooks from when she was a student at BYU–Pathway. She spoke to students of BYU–Pathway Worldwide during a devotional broadcast on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Credit: Screenshot from byupathway.org

As individuals come to know and have faith in Jesus Christ, they understand their potential and have the confidence they need to do hard things. “We trust that He will help us as we learn,” Sister Costa said, in everything from math to psychology and any other subject.

Then as they obtain an education, learners become aware of all the things they don’t know or are doing wrong. “We feel the need to change or repent.”

As an illustration, Sister Costa shared how when she was earning her certificate in marriage and family studies, she wished many times she could go back in time when her children were little and apply many of the things she was learning. “Even though I loved my classes, sometimes I felt like I was taking a crash course on everything I did wrong as a parent,” Sister Costa recalled.

She overcame her sadness, however, by recognizing that she had done her best with the tools and abilities she had at the time and that the Lord had blessed her with a wonderful family. “But I was also grateful to learn there was a better way to do it.”

Sister Costa then shared a quote from President Russell M. Nelson: “The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, His gospel provides an invitation to keep changing, growing and becoming more pure. It is a gospel of hope, of healing, and of progress.”

Participating in ordinances, such as baptism and partaking of the sacrament, can open one’s eyes to recognize divine influence. “When we see divine influence in our lives, we have the strength to do hard things,” Sister Costa said.

As individuals make and keep covenants, they can enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost — a key part of this divine pattern. 

Sister Costa said she has felt the truth of John 14:26: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.”

“I have felt the Spirit helping me remember when my mind and body were too tired. … I felt how my mind was enlightened to understand difficult texts and how I was personally tutored by the Spirit in the things I needed to learn, not only to pass an exam but to apply them in my personal life,” she said.

The pattern is a process, not an event. “As we repeat this process, we gain new divine attributes, and we continue growing and learning all of our lives. It gives me so much peace knowing that I can continue my divine education all my life,” Sister Costa said.

She concluded by saying, “I know that when we apply the doctrine of Christ we can all become true learners of Divinity, that we will receive divine power to be self-reliant in every aspect of our lives. We will be tutored by the Spirit, and we will become more like Jesus Christ.”

Elder Joaquin Esteban Costa with his wife, Sister Renee Beatriz Varela.
Elder Joaquin Esteban Costa with his wife, Sister Renee Beatriz Varela. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.