Josh is a storyteller. Many years ago we were hanging out in Macedonia, staying with the family of a friend he had made during his freshman year of college in Thessaloniki Greece. We were going to bed in the basement sharing a bed, and I was in a bit of an irate mood; this sometimes happens when you share close quarters for an extended period of time with someone, as we had been for something like a week at this point. I decided that now was a good time to start criticizing Josh for what I felt were ‘liberties’ he had taken with the truth in a number of stories he had told at dinner and over the course of our trip. To be honest, I don’t remember any of the specific examples that I pointed to (perhaps evidence of their unimportance), but I do remember Josh asking the question ‘what is the point of telling a story in the first place’ and suggesting that, maybe, the point of telling a story is to benefit its hearers, and not to present an obsessively accurate string of facts.
I think Josh’s response contained more truth than I understood (or was able to acknowledge) at the time, and is indicative of a key character trait in Josh: a focus on loving other people. Many of us cling to ideas and principles at the expense of other people and end up tearing them down with criticism, like me and my obsession with accuracy, but in Josh’s interactions he always seeks to build up the people he is with. When he is with people he hones in on what is good and admirable in them, and makes a habit of calling those things out publicly. He is better than almost anyone I know at not letting abstract ideas distract him from what’s truly important: loving others.
Another facet of this is Josh’s love of connecting people. He puts a lot of careful thought into facilitating trips and events and hangouts that bring people together, and takes great pleasure in his friends becoming friends. He’s great at planning, but he is able to hold plans loosely and is never really upset when things don’t go according to plan, because he sees plans as things to serve people, not people as things to serve plans.
In group contexts when he’s trying to connect people, Josh will often take charge and start making decisions for the group. Those of you who know Josh may have had the experience of cocking your head and going ‘wait, wat? why…?’ as I have had on occasion. You might feel like these decisions are random and arbitrary choices… and what I have learned over the years is that, in fact, they are. But if that was as far as you looked, you would miss the fact that Josh makes these decisions as a sacrifice for other people. This is the reason he is one of the best leaders I know. He does not make decisions for a group of people because he wants control, or because he wants things to go according to his plan or preferences, but rather, because he genuinely wants to see others flourish and succeed and enjoy themselves. He leads as an act of love and of service.
For those of you who don’t know, Josh and I have been best friends since we were 8 or 9 – since then we have been through every stage of life together, and I think that lends particular weight to my words: Josh, you are one of the most truly loving people I know. I’m glad you finally got to the better ones we always toasted to. Nadi, you are a lucky woman.
I’m quite certain I speak for everyone here who knows you Josh: thank you for your faithful friendship. Thank you for your consistent love and support over the years, it means the world to me. I love you very much, I’m so excited for you and Nadi, and so happy to be here celebrating your marriage. May God grant you many, many years together. Please raise your glass to Josh and Nadi.