Meet Jacqie Wallen

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Jacqie describes how an interest in the behavioral sciences led to her current call.

I was raised planning to work and support myself (not necessarily the case for all women my age) and believing that one’s work should be a calling — a vocation and not just a job.  I was always attracted to the behavioral sciences and to jobs that involved teaching or helping people and always felt that my vocation would be doing something like that.

I got my Ph.D. from the Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, a department that trains many excellent clinical psychologists but, though I took all of the clinical courses, I couldn’t afford to do the required clinical internships since they didn’t pay and I needed a paying job. As a result, I never earned the title of clinical psychologist and wasn’t licensed to be a psychotherapist.

I’ve worked as a researcher and university professor since completing my Ph.D. and though I’ve made some contributions in this work. I always regretted not having completed training as a psychotherapist. 20 years ago I went back to school and got a Master’s in Social Work at Catholic University and became a psychotherapist. I continue to teach in the Department of Family Science at the University of Maryland, I feel that my real call is to my part-time psychotherapy practice.

There is another kind of call, that has always been deeper and scarier, to me, than just vocation. It has to do not just with how you earn your living but with what you sacred occupation is, what God calls your soul to do. I’ve always been really scared to listen for that kind of call. I was afraid it would be something too hard or too awful, like maybe I would have to go work with Mother Theresa in Calcutta or be a martyr or something. I didn’t want to hear that call.
I did end up hearing such a call however, about 2 or 3 years ago when God called me to join Seekers Church and commit myself to a mission group. Well, surprise—that wasn’t scary at all. So, even though it wasn’t anywhere near commitment Sunday, I went in front of everyone one Sunday and committed myself to membership in Seekers. If you look at the membership book you will see that mine is the first signature since Seekers has been in this building because I didn’t want to wait until October when everyone else would be signing. I joined Learners and Teachers Mission Group and am tremendously grateful for the opportunity I have every week to be loved and supported and entertained while doing work that helps Seekers.

In my Mission Group, I receive weekly spiritual direction from Marjory. It has enabled so much growth in me and also it has helped me realize that, all along, I have been responding to another call, which is to help my son and daughter and my daughter’s children all get themselves grounded and established in life. Knowing that it’s a matter of call makes me feel a lot better about all of the people I have living in my house.

One last piece of call, for me, is my growing involvement in my job at the University of Maryland in creating opportunities for potential and actual health and human service professionals to expand their cultural competence and embrace cultural diversity, particularly with Latin American clients.