Ball Played As It Lies

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

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I know little to nothing about golf. I know I like the idea of it. I know I like the people who play. I like the little cart that zigs and zags across the landscape. I like the dress code. I like it is ripe for a little lingering. I know the lower the score the happier the player. But that’s about it. I am done on my golf knowledge at this point. Since I absolutely stink at goofy golf, I am going to assume my golf course performance would be about the same even though there is no little windmill to further complicate getting the ball in the hole. But I am going to attempt to write about a rule I am learning. Please grant me a little mercy and grace should I miss the details.

Rule No. 13: “Ball Played As It Lies.” It is rather a merciless rule as I understand it. In my reading, the rule “prohibits improving the lie, the area intended for making a swing, the line of play or the area in which the ball is to be dropped or placed.” In other words, you get what you get and if your ball lies in a mess, then so be it, you best get to learning how to get out of the mess. Remember when I asked for a little mercy and grace should I not get it exactly right? Well, there is no mercy or grace inherent in this rule. It was your swing, it is your ball, and it is your lie. Sometimes the ball can land in an area the previous player left disturbed, causing you a tough shot to get out of someone’s careless leftovers. Sometimes, you get in a straight mess no fault of your own. It’s just “too bad, so sad” for you. No mercy. No grace. If this rule were a person, we would deem him rude. We certainly wouldn’t invite him over for dinner.

Rule 13 can be a cruel reality. What if life worked by a Rule 13? How many times have we felt slighted because we were left to clean up a mess we had no part of making? How many times have we run into someone who is purely broken, and we bleed from their sharp edges because we happened to land in their path? We look to offer a friendship or a soft-landing spot and another simply can’t accept what we have to offer? Do we take their rejection as part of life which has a Rule 13? Do we move on having to bear the burden we got caught up on somebody else’s bad day, bad attitude, bad life experience? Is that fair to us? What if we run across the merciless? Are we victim of a Rule 13? Should we just expect from time to time, by no fault of our own, we happen to lie in the middle of another’s mess? After all, it is our swing, it is our ball, it is our lie. We were just playing the best we knew how to play and here we find ourselves, lying in something we wouldn’t choose, something we can’t control. What if Rule 13 is one of our worst experiences and we find ourselves saying, “Wow, I did nothing to deserve such a fate as this!”

Rule 13 can also be the absolute best of reality. What if life works by a Rule 13? We made a really good swing, we own the flight on our ball, and our lie is a sweet spot. We find ourselves in a lie perfect to go forward from. We look around at our lie and my gosh how did it ever happen we get to be in this gorgeous place? What about the times we find ourselves surrounded by a perfectly beautiful setting, by beautiful people who seem to match with us on a soul level? What if we find ourselves face to face with someone who is strong where we are weak, and the combination is a glorious symphony? What if our lie is a space which is so grateful to finally be played from? What if Rule 13 is the absolute best thing which ever happened to us and we find ourselves saying, “Wow, I did nothing to deserve such a fate as this!”

It is all part of playing the game. Rule 13 applies. It is our swing, it is our ball, it is our lie. It is part of a life fully lived. Sometimes the lie is a mess, sometimes it is a beauty. Sometimes Rule 13 is rude, sometimes Rule 13 is full of mercies and grace. We land in messes, we enjoy the sweet spots, and do we get to control such? It is, after all, our swing, our ball, our lie. In my life I often find myself saying the serenity prayer repeatedly—I want the serenity that comes with accepting the things I cannot change. I want the courage to change the things I can and my golly how I want the wisdom to know the difference. Rule 13 is really: “We Do the Best We Can and Hope for the Best.” Sure, there is a skill, and we are responsible for procuring it. We trust wisdom to tell us what to accept and what to change. It is our swing, our ball and ultimately our lie. We get to choose if we see the brokenness or the beauty as something we accept. We get to proclaim the brokenness or the beauty as something we can change. We will get the wisdom to choose how we view our lie. Rule 13. “Ball Played As It Lies.” Maybe we would be wise to know the rule that says, “Life Played As It Lies.” Play your life from the lie. There are times the lie will be ugly. There are times the lie will be sweet. Life will be played from lie. As for accepting or changing your lie, Rule 13 says you keep playing, despite it all, you just keep playing. Maybe in the playing we learn the art of wisdom.